What Is High-Intensity Interval Training?

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What Is HIIT?

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is an emerging fitness trend. HIIT offers efficiency, with the maximum amount of exercise in the least amount of time. The proven benefits of these workouts relate to an extremely special form of interval training.

HIIT is a form of interval training that alternates short periods of intense aerobic exercise with smaller intensive recovery periods, until too exhausted to continue. The method isn’t only restricted to cardio but also frequently includes weights for a short period.

HIIT workouts provide improved muscular and functional performance and improved glucose metabolism and insulin resistance. However, when compared with long sessions typical of other treatment regimens, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is not very effective for treating hyperlipidemia and obesity.

Weight Loss

Although studies have shown that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and high-intensity cardio programs have contributed to significant decreases in body fat in women, some researchers question whether the average American population would accept such an intense exercise regimen.

But science has forgotten some important and often overlooked aspects of HIIT. It has very little to do with weight loss, for one thing. It’s a challenge for overall health improvement – it’s about fitness and efficiency. It’s about strength training.

Benefits of HIIT

HIIT makes a huge impact on performance, particularly in sports, with significant improvements. For this reason, athletes often use the high-intensity interval technique to increase their game. Other benefits include increases in VO²max (how much oxygen you must have during exercise), improvements in insulin sensitivity, blood pressure, and cardiovascular dysfunction.



HIIT allows you to build muscle mass, burn fat, lose weight, gain strength, increase metabolic rate and improve performance. Post-workout bonus: After HIIT exercise, your metabolic rate is increased for hours, and helps burn fat more efficiently.

Cardio Fitness

The high-intensity interval training workout and the intense cardiovascular aerobic exercise workout are challenging together. You can use HIIT workouts on any type of work that requires cardiovascular fitness, for example: running, stair climbing (you can use a step stool), rowing, or rope climbing.

It also spikes a person’s heart rate during tough runs, thus helping with cardio performance. This makes it a convenient cardiovascular exercise method for people who are short on time but want to improve aerobic fitness.


WHO (World Health Organization) and ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine) suggest 50 minutes per day, with moderate to vigorous, high-intensity exercise to improve health. HIIT can be considered to be a better form of interval training, involving short, high-intensity aerobic exercise training from 85% to 2500% VO.

Compared with MICT (moderate-intensity continuous training), HIIT demonstrates the capacity of VO²max, for more effective reduction of risk factors associated with metabolic syndrome.


The hallmark of HIIT is repeated, intense days of working out, interspersed with periods of recovery = high-intensity intervals. For real HIIT, you would likely limit your work intervals to only about 20 seconds.

In forcing your body to continuously acclimate between two very different states, you provide the kind of cardio workout that gives your body the most health benefits. To make your workout hard enough, health experts are using an RPE scale to assess effort at exercise levels up to 10, with 10 being an “all-in” HIIT workout.

Less Intense

A less intensive example of interval exercises or short HIIT workout includes 10 brief one-minute workouts each followed by one-half minute each of recovery. And you can substitute walking with more aerobic exercises like swimming or biking. The entire routine takes 40 minutes.


These types of quick HIIT routines are not as effective as the nearly continuous exercise and training of true HIIT, but they still burn calories, resulting in fat loss and lean muscle tone. Lower intensity exercise training programs with short bursts carried the least health benefits, while high-intensity interval training studies reported the greatest gains.

Other Health Benefits

A HIIT workout is especially beneficial to those who are experiencing difficulty reducing blood glucose and insulin tolerance. HIIT can decrease blood pressure and heart pressure mainly in overweight people with high blood pressure.

The term HIIT often has an interchangeable meaning in group fitness settings. True HIIT involves explosive and intense energy during the working time. A health benefit of HIIT is the use of breathing exercises, not simply for weight loss and muscle mass, but also for improving overall health.

HIIT is a complex training activity, and its importance is immense.

Example Routines

To better understand how you accomplish HIIT, let’s go through an example of a great HIIT workout that involves just you and your stationary bike. Make the tension as resistant as you can handle it, and start with 30 seconds of pedaling as fast as you can possibly go. Don’t stop, but slow down and give yourself a rest period of about 20 seconds, and this is considered one rep. You’ll want to do 4 – 6 reps at a time, for a workout.

You can do it easily with sprinting and jogging, as well, or many other intense exercises. Weights and weight machines are also often used. This type of exercise has more overall health benefits than longer, continuous intense workouts.

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